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The Romanians (români in present-day Romanian and rumâni in historical contexts) are an ethnic group; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania and of Moldova (where they are also called Moldovans); each of these countries also have other significant ethnic minorities, and the Romanians constitute an ethnic minority in several nearby countries. In historical contexts, and along with other Balkan Latin peoples such as the Aromanians, they are sometimes referred to as Vlachs, a name delivered from Slavic which was used to refer to all Romanized natives of the Balkans. Template:Ethnic group

Map of Balkans with regions inhabited by Romanians/Vlachs highlighted


Most Romanians live in Romania and Moldova, where they constitute a majority; Romanians also constitute a minority in the countries that neighbour them. Romanians can be found in many countries as immigrants, notably in the United States, Italy, Spain, Canada and Germany.


Main article: History of Romania

Ancient Times

Inhabited by the ancient Dacians, today's territory of Romania was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106, when Trajan's army defeated the army of Decebalus. The Roman administration withdrew two centuries later, under the pressure of the Goths and Carpi.

Middle Ages

The invasions that followed - such as the ones of Slavs, Hungarians, and Tatars - did not allow Romanians to develop any large centralized state, which was only achieved in the 13th century when the Romanian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia emerged to fight the Ottoman Turks.

The entire Balkan peninsula was annexed by the Ottoman Empire, but Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania remained autonomous under Ottoman suzerainty. The three principalities were united in 1600 by Wallachian Mihai Viteazul, however, he was assassinated shortly afterwards.

Up until 1699, Transylvania was ruled by Hungarians, but in 1699 it became a part of the Austrian Empire. By the 19th century, Austrians were awarded the region of Bukovina by the Ottoman Empire and in 1812, the Russians occupied the eastern half of Moldavia, known as Bessarabia.

Modern Age

In 1821 and 1848, two rebellions occurred, and both failed; but they had an important role in the spreading of the liberal ideology. In 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia elected the same ruler - Alexander John Cuza and thus they were unified.

Romania, lead by German Prince Carol I fought the War of Independence against The Ottomans, which was recognized in 1878. In 1916, Romania joined World War I on the Entente side and at the end of it, Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukowina voted to re-unite with Romania, resulting in Greater Romania.

During World War II, Romania lost territory in both east and west, as a part of Transylvania was awarded by Hitler and Mussolini to Hungary (it was later returned to Romania), and Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, which were taken by the Soviets and included in the Moldavian SSR and Ukrainian SSR. Both losses were facilitated by the Molotov-Ribbentrop German-Soviet non-aggression pact, which explicitly mentioned the eastern territories.

The Soviet Union forced Romania to adopt a Communist government and King Michael had to abdicate and leave for exile. Ceauşescu became the head of the Romanian Communist Party in 1965 and his draconian rule of the 1980s was stopped by a Revolution in 1989.

The Romanian revolution brought to power the dissident communist leader Ion Iliescu. He remained in power until 1996, and then once more between 2000 and 2004. Emil Constantinescu was president from 1996 to 2000, and Traian Băsescu started his mandate in 2004.

Romania joined NATO in 2002 and is expected to join the European Union in 2007.


File:Club A.JPG
Dancing at the Club A in Bucharest, early 21st century

Contribution to humanity

See main article: List of Romanians

Romanians have played an important role in the arts, sciences and engineering.

In the history of flight, Traian Vuia built the first self-propelling heavier-than-air aircraft, while Henri Coandă built the first aircraft powered by a jet engine. Victor Babeş discovered more than 50 germs and a cure for a disease named after him, Babesia; biologist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin. Another biologist, Emil Palade, received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to cell biology. Mathematican Ştefan Odobleja is considered to be the ideological father behind Cybernetics.

In the arts and culture, important figures were George Enescu (music composer), Constantin Brâncuşi (sculptor), Eugène Ionesco (playwright),Mircea Eliade (historian of religion and novelist) and Emile Cioran (essayist).

Count Dracula is a worldwide icon of Romania. However, the idea of Dracula as a vampire is not genuinely Romanian. It was created by the Irishman Bram Stoker from Balkan folklore and the historic Transylvanian figure of Vlad Ţepeş.


Main article: Romanian language

The origins of Romanian language, a Romance language, can be traced back to the Roman colonization of Dacia. The basic vocabulary is of Latin origin, although there are some substratum Dacian words. Of all the Romance languages, it could be said that Romanian is the most archaic one, having retained, for example, the inflected structure of Latin grammar.

During the Middle Ages, Romanian was isolated from the other Romance languages, and borrowed words from the nearby Slavic languages. The Turkish occupation enriched the language with a picturesque Turkic vocabulary by now thoroughly integrated into everyday speech. During the modern era, most neologisms was borrowed from French and Italian, though increasingly the languages is falling under the sway of English borrowings.

The Moldovan language, in its official form, is practically identical to Romanian, although there are some differences in colloquial speech. In the de-facto independent (but internationally unrecognised) region of Transnistria, the official script used to write Moldovan is Cyrillic.


Many Romanian names have the surname suffix -escu, which used to be a patronymic. (for example, "Petrescu" used to be the son of "Petre") Many Romanians of France changed their ending in -esco, because the way it is pronounced "-cu" in French. Other suffixes are "-eanu", which indicates the geographical origin and "-aru", which indicates the occupation.

The most common surnames are Ionescu ("son of John") and Popescu ("son of the priest").


Most Romanians (86.8) are Orthodox Christians. Romanian Catholics are present in Transylvania, Bucharest, and parts of Moldavia, belonging to both the Eastern Rite (Romanian Catholic Church) and the Roman Rite (Roman Catholic Church).

Romanians have no official date for adoption of Christianity. It appears that Christianization occurred gradually, starting during the Roman era and then continuing while the Romanian people and language emerged, as suggested by archeological findings and by Romanian words for church ("biserică" < basilica), God ("Dumnezeu" < Domine Deus), Easter ("Paşte" < Paschae), etc.

After the Great Schism, there existed a Catholic Bishopric of Cumania (later, separate bishoprics in both Wallachia and Moldavia). However, this seems to be the exception, rather than the rule, as in both Wallachia and Moldavia the state religion (the one use for crowning, and other ceremonies) was orthodox. Until the 17th century, the official language of the liturgy was Old Church Slavonic. Then, it gradually changed to Romanian.


File:Stema Romaniei mare.png
Coat of Arms of Romania

The colours of blue, yellow and red, which are now used on the both the flag of Romania and the flag of Moldova were used by the nationalist movement of 1820s, but it is clear that they were even older, some suggest that they can be traced to the military flag of the Byzantine province of Moesia.

In addition to these colours, each historical province of Romania has its own characteristic animal symbol:

The Coat of Arms of Romania combines these together.


Main article: Romanian customs (to be written)


In English they are usually called Romanians or Rumanians except in some historical texts, where they are called Vlachs.


The name "Romanian" is derived from Latin "Romanus". Under regular phonetical changes that are typical to the Romanian languages, the name was transformed in "rumân" (ru'mɨn). An older form of "român" was still in use in some regions. During the National awakening of Romania of early 19th century, the latter form was preferred, in order to emphasise the link with ancient Rome.


The name of "Vlachs" is an exonym that was used by Slavs to refer to all Romanized natives of the Balkans. It holds its origin from ancient Germanic - being a cognate to "Welsh" and "Walloon" -, and perhaps even further back in time, from the Roman name Volcae, which was originally a Celtic tribe. From the Slavs, it was passed on to other peoples, such as the Hungarians (Olah) and Greeks (Vlachoi). (see: Etymology of Vlach)

Nowadays, the term Vlach is more often used to refer to the Romanized populations of the Balkans who do not speak the Romanian language but rather the Aromanian language and other Romance languages such as Istro-Romanian and Megleno-Romanian. Aromanian, Istro-Romanian and Megleno-Romanian are the closest related languages to the Romanian language.


In the Middle Ages, Romanian shepherds migrated with their flocks in search of better pastures and reached Southern Poland, Croatia, Greece, and Eastern Thrace. This explains the number of place names derived from "Vlach" in the Balkans and beyond.


These are family names that have been derived from either Vlach or Romanian. Most of these names have been given when a Romanian settled in a non-Romanian region.

  • Oláh (37,147 Hungarians have this name)
  • Vlach
  • Vlahuţă
  • Vlasa
  • Vlašić
  • Vlăsceanu
  • Vlachopoulos

Subgroups and related ethnic groups


The Daco-Romanians are the people who speak the standard dialect of Romanian and live in the territory of ancient Dacia (mostly Romania and Moldova), although some of them can be found in Serbia (which was part of ancient Moesia).


The Istro-Romanians speak a dialect of Romanian and it is believed they left Maramureş, Transylvania about a thousand-years ago and settled in Istria, Croatia. Presently, their numbers is estimated to reach around 500 people.

Aromanians and Megleno-Romanians

The Aromanians and Megleno-Romanians speak the languages that are closest to Romanian and linguists believe that the two languages split sometime between the 7th and 9th century. Whether these are languages or only dialects is disputed (See Origin of Romanians).

See also

Notes and references

1. ^  "Milioane de români pe drumul emigrarii" ("Millions of Romanians on the emigration road"). Evenimentul Zilei, May 10, 2004. Page is on Internet Archive, retrieved Oct 25, 2004.
2. ^  "Românii din diaspora" ("Romanians in diaspora") on the site of The Foundation for Romanians from All Over the World, captured December 24, 2004.
3. ^  "Românii din strainatate nu prea merg la votare", ("Most Romanians abroad will not go to vote"). Jurnalul Naţional, date unknown but presumably autumn 2004, captured December 24, 2004.
4. ^  Romanian language on Ethnologue.
5. ^  The number for Germany does not count some half million ethnic Swabians whose families historically lived in Transylvania, and who relocated to Germany at various times in the 20th century.
6. ^  The number for Israel does not count 450,000 Jews of Romanian origin.
7. ^  BBC: "Minoritatea românilor din Serbia este nemulţumită" ("The Romanian minority in Serbia is discontent")
8. ^  2001 Hungarian census
9. ^  Romanian Communities Allocation in United States: Study of Romanian-American population (2002), Romanian-American Network, Inc. Retrieved 14 Oct 2005.
10. ^  RoMedia Target Audience
11. ^  Bulgarian Census, 2001 (in Bulgarian).
12. ^  Statistics Canada, Canada 2001 Census. [1], discussed further at List of Canadians by ethnicity
13. ^  ABS 2001 Census figures report 10-20,000 respondents indicating Romanian ancestry; 12,950 reported as Romanian-born (but not necessarily of Romanian ethnicity).

de:Rumänen ka:რუმინელები ro:Români sq:Rumunët sv:Rumäner